Tech Tip: What Are Those Black and White Square Patterns and Why Should I Care?

Suddenly, they’re everywhere.  Those little squares that look like a crossword puzzle mated with an ink blot. And as you look closer at one you are  probably thinking, “Sheesh, is this another tech thing I have to learn? Do they actually do anything? Isn’t this just some trend among Hipster marketers?” Answers:  Yes, Yes, and A Little Bit for Right Now.

QR Code

What the *&# is this?

You’re probably not thinking, what are they called?  But I’ll tell you anyway, so you can impress your friends and the hipsters. They actually have several names: QR codes (for Quick Response), Mobile Tags, and 2-D Bar Codes (1-D being the bar code the cashier swipes).

Before getting into more specifics, how about a little demonstration?

Creative example of what you can do with a QR code

Creative fodder for how you could use it in your job search. Before that, though, you need to learn the basics of how it works, and set it up.

How do QR codes work?

First, you need a smartphone since these QR codes require a camera and web access. You also need an app that can read it. Don’t know where to get one? Don’t worry, we’ll ‘splain.

  1. See if you have a QR reader on your phone. You probably don’t so you will have to download one from your app store or market onto your phone. For more info on that, click how to download a QR reader app
  2. Once you have your QR reader app installed, click on the QR reader app icon on your phone
  3. Aim the camera so it looks like you’re about to take a picture of the code.  You will hear a beep when it captures it
  4. The phone decodes the code
  5. It takes you to a website

And that website can be a page featuring a special offer,  your portfolio, or a video.
Besides taking you to a website, what else can a QR code do?

  1. It can automatically dial a phone number (lame, if you are not warned ahead of time) when you scan it.
  2. You can buy things with it and it will charge your credit card account. So far only this only exists at a few places in the US. But it’s everywhere in Japan.
  3. You can use it as a boarding pass. The big difference here:  You download the QR code to your phone and then scan that code in the boarding area.  No need to download software since your phone isn’t reading anything. United, Delta, and American Airlines are doing this now.  Others are adding it soon so check with your airline.

So far in the States, that’s the most useful thing it can do.  Once again, look to Japan to see what can be done.

Mojo Moves

  • Check and see if your phone has a QR reader app, if not, download one now, and scan the QR code on this page
  • Read more about  QR codes in general and how they can be used in marketing
  • Create your own QR code.  As an example, try using your public LinkedIn profile URL or your blog as the destination. Then put the image onto your business cards, your one-page sell sheet, or a physical newsletter that you send out. That is, wherever you go that you meet people and it’s cumbersome to whip out a laptop or tablet, becomes a perfect opportunity for them to check their smartphone and see what you’ve got.

Find this helpful?  Be sure to click the Like button, email it to a friend. Got other questions or comments about QR codes?  Spill below.

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Did you enjoy this post?
  • Sharon O’Day

    Oh, no, Susan! Not another app … I’m already peddling as fast as I can! Maybe that’s the difference between Mojo40 and Mojo60? ;-)

  • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

    Sharon, I am a big fan of doing what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are at! So, indeed you be the judge! Personally, I had great fun with my QR code reader at the 2011 New York Auto Show…. but many others couldn’t care less (including my three kids, who only wanted to play with dials while sitting in the front seat of the fancy cars!)

  • Wendy Hanlan

    I LOVE app’s, plugins, widgets…you name it! This one is tres cool – will check it out!

    • fuzzball

      People in China use it all the time. Even open air markets and street vendors use them. Eventually cash will be eliminated!

  • Cindi Kiner

    This is so cool! I just created a QR code for a dental discount program that I offer! I can’t wait to start using it.

    Since it saved as a .png, will I be able to post it to Facebook as a photo?

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